James challenged

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Damon Jones has referred to himself as "the best shooter in the world."

Not anymore, though.

"He's second now," teammate LeBron James, 20, said.

The Cavs star, who can't drink in the United States until his 21st birthday on Dec. 30, does not lack confidence, especially with his much-improved three-point shot. But at the same time, he is being challenged by his new coach, Mike Brown, to improve and James acknowledges there are aspects of his game that need work.

"I think I'm always getting better on the offensive end and defensive end," James said before his Cavs faced the Raptors last night at the Air Canada Centre. "Mentally, I can prepare myself better to go out and play the game of basketball. It's going to come with age and going to come with me winning some ball games with teammates and getting better."

Ah yes, winning. The Cavs haven't made the playoffs in James' two seasons in the NBA, much to the chagrin of television executives. During his time with the team, the Cavs have gone through two coaches -- Paul Silas and interim coach Brendan Malone.

A WAYS TO GO

Now, it's left to Mike Brown, a career assistant until this season, to take this team and make it right. Known as a defensive specialist during his stays with the Indiana Pacers, the San Antonio Spurs and the Washington Wizards, Brown feels James has a ways to go as a defender. So does the whole team, which had a 1-2 record and was last in opponent's field-goal percentage entering the game last night.

"He's a learning defender," Brown said. "That's what I'd call him. There are things he has to learn, just like everybody else. He's in the process of learning what I want and expect at that end of the floor and he has done a good job at it."

While James and Silas didn't necessarily see eye-to-eye, Brown was gushing about his superstar yesterday.

"One of the biggest pleasures I get is coming to work and knowing I'm going to be around him," Brown said. "He has made my job as a first-year head coach a lot easier than a lot of first-year coaches experience. Not only is he coachable, but he is a leader and he will lead vocally and by example and you can't ask for anything more than that."

With Jones, Donyell Marshall and Larry Hughes added to the Cavs mix, James has a much better supporting cast, one which will keep his ego in check.

"Statistic-wise he is (the best three-point shooter), but he knows the truth," Marshall said.

"He talked trash yesterday getting off the bus to me and Damon, but he has taken the most (three pointers) so far, too."


Videos

Photos